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Zaryadye Park: Ar. Elizabeth Diller’s Spectacular Contribution to Moscow’s Urban Design

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on March 08, 2019 at 11:46 AM

It’s that time of the year, again.. oh no, it’s neither Diwali, nor Christmas! It’s International Women’s Day - the time to celebrate womanhood. AT TFOD – The Future Of Design, we focus on the contributions of women designers, artists and architects, that make our world better in every way imaginable. In focus today is Ar. Elizabeth Diller’s spectacular contribution to Moscow’s urban landscape – one of her recently completed projects – Zaryadye Park!

© Courtesy of internet resources

Liz Diller is one half of the founding partners of the international design firm Diller-Scofidio + Renfro which has to its credit the success of the High Line in New York, a public open green mounted on a defunct railway track that meanders through the fabric of the city. It is the success of this very urban intervention and lessons learnt from it that have led to Diller-Scofidio + Renfro winning the international competition for the design of Zaryadye Park in Moscow in 2013. The transition between 2017 – 2018 saw the completion and grand opening of this massive and spectacular urban amenity in a ceremony officiated by the Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Zaryadye Park is a 10-hectare recreational area built on a heretofore private commercial land of the Kitai-Gorod district in the heart of Moscow city beside the Moscova river. It is surrounded by the most famous landmarks like the Kremlin, the Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral, in a sense completing the trail of the city’s tourist hot-spots. Needless to say, the park, with its multi-pronged programme as a nature park, a recreation hub, a public plaza, social space, cultural amenity and educational apparatus, became an instant hit with visitors. The fact that this land, though private, has hosted historically embedded structures like the Soviet era’s colossal Hotel Rossiya and an incomplete Stalinist skyscraper in the past creates its own aura of significance for the plot’s current designation as a public space which occupies 25% of downtown Moscow.

The multifarious programmes of the park which require a varying range of outdoor and indoor locations have been arranged as layers of built and natural environs. Built structures are often topped by the landscape passing over them and the arrangement stepping down, layer by enchanting layer. These varying layers of natural and built content are knitted together by meandering pathways paved with the same cobblestones that have been used in the Red Square, a reaffirming reference to heritage. This layered arrangement also facilitates the integration of active and passive climate control systems that render the park enjoyable through all the seasons of the year. The designers use the term ‘Wild Urbanism’, to describe the concept.

These layers of landscape, or terraces, have been designed to recreate the four major types of geographies found in different climatic zones of the vast Russian country – the Tundra, the temperate conifers, the steppes and the wetlands. For this, one million plants are said to have been brought here from all over Russia and planted here. Here, visitors can learn a lot about Russia’s natural heritage, take part in experiments and lectures on biotechnology, microbiology, genetics, medicine, geography and ecology. The Florarium affords a collection of dozens of aeroponically grown flowering plants.

As the The Kupol (Dome) Information Pavilion an award winning pavilion designed with QR codes covering it, helps people find their way around the park, they have a choice between simply enjoying nature, attending lectures and workshops, catching some entertainment at the theatres, visiting the ice-cave or going up the ‘soaring bridge’ – a humungous yet sleek cantilevered wonder road shaped like an arrow-head that lifts upward as its bent end looms over the river affording some breath-taking views of the surrounding scenery and heritage.

The entertainment options include a ‘Flight Cinema’ which uses a parabolic screen and mobile seating deck among other 5D effects that simulates the experience of flying through varying climate zones, and a ‘Time Machine Cinema’ that uses a perimetric screen and interactive floor  to take the spectators through the timeline of Russian history. These are housed in 8500 sq m of the Entertainment Pavilion. The Big and Small Amphitheatres and the Roofed Concert Hall form the three fantastic concert venues in the park. The world’s largest transparent roof with no partition walls – the Glass Bark – covers the connection of the Concert Hall to the Big Amphitheatre. The Gastronomic Centre has culinary kiosks and events where visitors get acquainted with Russian cuisine.

The awarded design consortium led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) along with Hargreaves Associates and Citymakers has rendered the park as a public space which milks the essence of Russian built and natural heritage. They articulate it by pushing the frontiers of construction technologies, upholding the most crucial sustainability principles and in the spirit of the citizenry’s shared resources as the first public park built in Moscow in the last 50 years.

As some have said, the Zaryadye Park is to Moscow what the High Line is to New York in many respects. That a woman has helmed two of the most extraordinarily imaginative and unusually massive contemporary interventions to the design of two of the world’s major urban centres is telling of the difference womankind’s contributions can make to the world at large. Well, on that note, ‘Happy Women’s Day’ Liz Diller, and all the amazing women out there!

Designer : Liz Diller, Diller-Scofidio + Renfro
Photography :internet resources

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